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Defense Department stockpiles supplies as COVID-19 cases increase

Lt. Tess Bandy of the Naval Medical Center, Camp Lejeune, N.C., dons personal protective equipment in preparation for training. The Defense Department announced increases in personal medical protective equipment as COVID-19 cases in the military rise. Photo by Maj. Bonnie Conard/U.S. Army 
Lt. Tess Bandy of the Naval Medical Center, Camp Lejeune, N.C., dons personal protective equipment in preparation for training. The Defense Department announced increases in personal medical protective equipment as COVID-19 cases in the military rise. Photo by Maj. Bonnie Conard/U.S. Army 

Nov. 16 (UPI) -- The Defense Department has a four-month supply of personal protective equipment as it anticipates an increase in COVID-19 cases, a statement released Monday said.

The supplies include respirators, gloves and masks for use by military personnel and families, and was purchased and stockpiled by the Defense Logistics Agency. Much of it will be used for patient care at medical treatment facilities worldwide.

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The increase in supplies comes as the number of COVID-19 infections has risen sharply in the United States since September.

On Monday, the Defense Department reported a total of 99,389 infections and 113 deaths among its military and civilian personnel, dependents and contractors. Last week it announced the award of a $6.18 million contract to Illinois-based Medline Industries Inc. to increase domestic production capacity of surgical masks.

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The United States surpassed 11 million cases on Sunday, with over 1 million in the past week alone and over 133,000 new cases and over 600 deaths on Sunday, the 13th consecutive day in which over 100,000 cases were reported.

Another outbreak of the virus at U.S. military bases in Japan was reported over the weekend by U.S. Forces Japan, notably at Yokosuko Naval Base, which had four new infections. The base has reported 125 cases since July.

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Veterans Affairs hospitals in the United States also reported a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases. Like the cumulative U.S. totals, active cases have risen steadily since September, and surpassed 10,000 cases on Sunday.

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Prior to this month, VA figures never reached 6,400 active cases. Of nearly 89,000 confirmed cases tracked by VA, about 74,000 have recovered, but 4,327 have died, a death rate of about five percent and higher than the national, non-veteran average of about three percent.

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